When I first heard that Grand Rapids was getting an indoor market I was thrilled. I imagined myself shopping there every Saturday morning with my coffee in one hand and my reusable tote in the other. How nice it would be to finally have a place where I could get local fresh food to make lavish lunches that would be the envy of all my coworkers.
Thinking back, I’m not sure how I thought that this new swanky market would magically transform my cereal and PB&J lunches into magazine worthy meals. Two weeks after the market opened I still hadn’t bought anything beyond Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe’s whoopie pies or Love’s Ice Cream’s Watermelon Sorbet. I knew if I wanted to upgrade my lunches I had to get serious about channeling my inner Rachel Ray. So, I challenged myself to make a week of lunches with only food from the Downtown Market.
I went to the Downtown Market that Saturday on a mission. I had a rough idea of the five lunches I wanted to create, but still had no idea the exact ingredients, or what store I would get them from. I started out at Field & Fire Bakery and bought their recommendation of sandwich bread, along with focaccia, because I just couldn’t take my greedy eyes off of it. Next up was Miss Maddie’s. For someone who could eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner I was in noodle heaven. I consider myself lucky for getting out of there with only three purchases.
At this point in my shopping trip I had one solid meal and a hodge podge of other things that had potential. I knew at some point I would have to wander over to Montello’s Meat Market. My idea of meat up until this point had been frozen chicken nuggets or fish sticks that could be zapped in the microwave in less than 3 minutes. Thankfully, the staff at Montello’s Meat Market were more than happy to help a lost soul navigate the overwhelming meat counter. With their recommendations I selected three meats, and was sent across the hall to Spice Merchants to pick up seasoning to take my lunches to a whole new level. With over 200 spices to choose from, I was a bit out of my element to say the least. Lisa, the owner, was extremely helpful and picked out a few spices for me that would be easy to work with, but make a noticeable difference.
I could finally see my lunches shaping up. I finished my trip with veggies and fruit from City Produce, cheese from Aperitivo, and some finishing touches from Thornburg & Company, Old World Olive Press, and Making Thyme Kitchen.
By the time I left the Downtown Market, I had everything I needed for a week of fresh local lunches. None of my meals were very extravagant, but I was definitely the envy of all my coworkers. For my Friday meal I took my coworkers to the Downtown Market to try Rak Thai and show them around my newfound grocery haven.
Want to impress your coworkers? Here is a menu of five easy meals from the Downtown Market that will make you actually look forward to work.
Day 1: Spaghetti
Fresh basil and olive oil pasta: Miss Maddie’s
Gourmet tomato sauce: Miss Maddie’s
Ground beef: Montello’s Meat Market
Freshly grated parmesan cheese: Aperitivo
Onion: Fresh City Produce
Parsley: Spice Merchants
French Baguette: Field & Fire Bakery
Cilantro & Roasted Oil (for dipping bread): Old World Olive Press
Day 2: Ham Sandwich and Side Salad:
Whole wheat bread: Field & Fire Bakery
Applegate black forest ham: Montello’s Meat Market
Lettuce and tomato: Fresh City Produce
Provolone Cheese: Aperitivo
Red Skinned potato salad: Miss Maddie’s
Carmel Corn: Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Kettle Corn
Day 3: Grilled Chicken Salad
Lettuce: Sweet City Produce
Hot peppers and cherry tomatoes: Fresh City Produce
Crumbled goat cheese: Aperitivo
Quinoa Tabbouleah: Making Thyme Kitchen
Red Apple Vinaigrette Dressing: Fresh City Produce
Pumpkin Whoopie Pie: Sweet-licious Bakery
Day 4: Focaccia Bread Pizza
Focaccia Bread: Field & Fire Bakery
Olive Oil mixed with Zahtar: Spice Merchants
Spinach, tomatoes and peppers: Fresh City Produce
Dancing Goat Chevre: Aperitivo
Espresso Carmel Chocolate: Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate
Day 5: Pad Thai and Smoothie
Pad Thai: Rak Thai
Peach Cobbler Smoothie: Malamiah Juice Bar
Andrea Filter, Contributing Writer